Sccy CPX-1 Review

IMG_8844

I first became acquainted with the Sccy pistol line while working at a gun store in Southern Colorado. Our little hole in the wall shop had received one of their early production handguns, and the owner liked it enough to carry around in a small pistol holster in the shop on a daily basis.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, and I’m out in a sandy, central Texas range shooting the CPX-1 for the first time. The handgun is fairly small and light, about the same size as a Ruger LC9, the sights are large and familiar enough for my Glock-attuned eyes to use easily, and the grip, though not ideal (for me, that’s a Glock 17 or Browning Hi-Power), seems comfortable enough. I’m not a handgun guy; I really prefer practicing marksmanship fundamentals on a rifle while slung up in a GI web sling and shooting at a target as far away as the range allows, to standing in an isosceles stance, trying to control a little gun that wants to fly out of my hands. For me, that’s what all pistols feel like; I’ve been thoroughly spoiled by all the points of contact afforded by my coveted stocks and slings.

But even I can tell you the Sccy’s trigger has got to go. (More on that later in the article.)

IMG_8837

The Sccy CPX-1 pistol returning to battery. While it certainly wasn’t as controllable as my Glock 19, it wasn’t difficult to control compared to other compact 9mm handguns.

Having said that, the gun is a strong contestant in the concealed handgun market. The weapon is a well-made, if unremarkable, tilting-barrel-locking, recoil-operated handgun, with a hammer-fired mechanism. The machining was well done (it had all the hallmarks of being done via CNC, though I can’t confirm this), and the polymer elements were not poorly molded, nor did they have any defects. One of its few interesting design features is an aluminum frame and guide rail unit that is the serialized part, attached to which is the replaceable polymer grip. In the event that different OEM or aftermarket grips become available, the user of a Sccy can replace the grips without having to fill out another 4473. While right now this doesn’t seem to be much of a feature, it does speak to the thought that went into the design. During the somewhat limited string of fire I put it through, it was as reliable as Browning tilting-barrel locking firearms have become known for. This handgun certainly did not require a break-in period.
The finish of the slide of the Sccy was an attractive black nitriding over stainless steel, which unfortunately had already begun showing spots of rust by the time the pistol found its way to me. This is a minor issue; stainless steel, while less susceptible to tarnish, will rust like any other steel with neglect, and I was not the first user of this handgun. I recommend Sccy owners keep their handguns well-oiled to prevent this. The serialized aluminum frame insert was anodized black.

IMG_8902

The Sccy broken down into its component parts. Note the non-captive takedown pin. In the author’s opinion, this is a minor detriment to the appeal of the handgun.

Takedown of the Sccy has both good and bad elements. On the positive side, takedown is performed with the slide locked back at the slide stop. This is a feature I wish more handguns had, as I think it greatly eases disassembly, especially for those with weak hands. The steel takedown pin is removable through the use of the case head of a piece of 9mm brass or a loaded 9mm cartridge. Admittedly, while on the range with it the first time, I did not think of this, and tried to remove the pin with my fingernail, which works much less well than using the proper “tool”. A negative aspect of disassembly in my opinion is that the pin is not captive in the frame. For the fastidious, I think this pin is big enough that it won’t be so easy to lose, but probably not every one of Sccy’s customers will be so careful. This is definitely not something that should prevent anyone from buying this handgun if it otherwise meets their needs, however.

The most outstanding part of the Sccy, though, is the warranty. Sccy ships each of their CPX-1 handguns with a lifetime, “no-questions asked” warranty; if the weapon is damaged or lost for any reason, Sccy will replace the firearm. In my opinion this is an absolutely huge factor for the target market for this handgun. When buying a firearm for everyday carry, one of the biggest factors in my mind is how easy the weapon will be to replace (to this end, I carry a Glock 19). In theory, it doesn’t get any easier to replace than the CPX-1. Further, the warranty is not tied to the owner; it is for each Sccy handgun and is tied to that weapon’s serial number. Even if the gun changes hands, it keeps its warranty. As far as I know, no other handgun is warranted to such an extent.

The Sccy handgun ships in two basic versions, the CPX-1 and CPX-2; the only difference being that the former, the handgun I tested, features dual ambidextrous manual safety levers; the -2 version lacking the manual safety. On a handgun like this, real-estate for features like manual safeties is limited. A designer has to then make a choice: They can either incorporate a small, difficult-to-use manual safety, no manual safety, or a large easy-to-inadvertently-disengage manual safety. Sccy chose the third option, but decided to overcome this weakness by adding large “wings” to the frame mold that protect the safety from inadvertent disengagement. This sounds like a great solution to a hard problem, but in practice these “wings” significantly interfered with my ability to use the handgun; having a proper grip meant having the wings being completely covered by my hand, digging into the skin. Under recoil, this was not very pleasant. Moving the hand down below the wings resulted in an awkward, low grip that clearly placed the hand below where the designer intended, and limited muzzle control. Because of this, I have to wonder whether the safety-less CPX-2 model wasn’t designed first; despite having the sequentially later designation. In my opinion, potential Sccy customers should absolutely choose the safety-less CPX-2 model, as it will be far easier to shoot and practice with than the manual safety CPX-1 model.

IMG_8904

The author pointing out the “wings” protecting the safety levers, which considerably reduce the shootability of the CPX-1 model. The safety-less CPX-2 model does not suffer from this drawback.

Finally, the trigger of the CPX-1 is my major sticking point with this firearm. Its pull was smooth, with enough travel for safety, but not difficult to pull at all. However, the reset of the trigger only occurs at the very end of the trigger’s return; if the trigger isn’t returned to its full extended position after each shot, the gun will not fire again. On the range this was very worrying. Even though the gun was working perfectly fine, “short stroking” the trigger made it feel as if the gun was having a mechanical malfunction. In a life or death scenario, if the user of this handgun had not practiced with the trigger, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine them desperately short stroking the trigger and getting nothing out of the handgun. This aspect of the firearm was very concerning to me, especially since it was coupled with an otherwise excellent product. I was unable to do any side by side comparison of the Sccy with any other comparable DAO handgun, so I am not able to give anything other than my impression that this trigger was unusual in this respect. I probably would recommend this handgun on its warranty alone to anyone looking for an everyday carry pistol, if not for the reset of this otherwise fine trigger pull.

IMG_8907

The author holding the Sccy in a high grip. This shot shows both the very simple wedge-shaped hammer, as well as the fact that when holding the handgun like this, the safety-protecting “wings” are completely covered by the shooter’s hands.

…Which isn’t to say I don’t recommend the Sccy. If the potential buyer is willing to put in the range hours necessary to adapt to this trigger and make sure to give enough room for the reset after every shot, then I would certainly recommend this handgun based on its warranty and relative high quality alone. I would not necessarily recommend this firearm to a new shooter looking for convenient personal protection; I think the trigger would be very unforgiving for them. In a perfect world, every user would practice regularly with their firearms, but unfortunately not every one does, and for the loved one with an interest only in protection, I would choose something with more forgiving operation than the Sccy.

IMG_8860

The Sccy in full recoil, showing its high visibility three-dot sights. For a Glock and CZ shooter like myself, this made for a very natural sight picture.

The handgun’s MSRP is $334, but they can be had for as little as $225 not including shipping or FFL fees through Gunbroker, making them highly affordable to the able deal-hunter. At the latter price, I would absolutely recommend the Sccy with its phenomenal warranty to the hobbyist-to-advanced-level shooter looking for an inconspicuous everyday carry gun that he or she does not care too much about to lose. I would also recommend the Sccy to the new shooter who is willing to put in the time to properly learn to use the weapon they are going to depend on, and who can train themselves to deal with the unforgiving trigger. For the new handgun owner who isn’t otherwise interested in the shooting sports, I would recommend a different firearm.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


Advertisement

  • Igor

    That’s one of the most thoghtful reviews i’ve ever seen!
    The only thing it lacks is accuracy testing.

    • I was unable to really do any, unfortunately. At any rate, for a gun like this, accuracy is of relatively low importance. The gun would have to be defective in the accuracy department for me to change my mind, anyhoo.

      • Sulaco

        What I have seen on line is that its “accurate” within “combat” distances of about 15 to 20 feet max. After that it gets ugly, just like its designed for I think.

  • Brocus

    I wouldn’t call it proper when the hand is covering the frame above the grip.

    • As mentioned, I shoot Glocks, and that is how I “wanted” to hold it.

      • Patrick R

        I knew there was a reason I didn’t like you.

  • James

    So… Its a keltec p11 with an optional safety? Will it run on s&w 59 mags too?

    • echelon

      Yes and yes. You do have to do a little dremel work on the s&w mags magazine catch, but they do work.

    • In my opinion, this gun is considerably more well-made than a Kel-Tec.

  • LeadFarmer

    After reading your review I was intrigued by the warranty comments so I checked their site… SCCY has the best warranty in the industry. The warranty stays with the gun not just the original owner (as you covered), but they also offer a 2 DAY maximum turnaround on any repairs. If they can’t fix it within two days they will send you a NEW GUN… And they also advertise that if your gun is ever stolen, send them a police report and they will send you a new gun! Never heard of ANY company making that claim. I have never shot their gun, but at that price point and that warranty I might just pick one up. Seems like customer service is making a comeback in the gun industry! Hallelujah!

    PS- and yes, the slides ARE all CNC machined in house. Another huge plus in this price point.

    • An excellent comment, LeadFarmer. Yes, their warranty is really fantastic, that’s what’s so attractive about this gun.

      • Ko I

        Taurus is the same on how long the warranty lasts.

    • BryanS

      The only one that rivals that is HiPoint, which as long as the serial is still recoverable, they will repair / replace, no matter the original buyer / current owners.

    • Ko I

      Probably means they don’t have any gunsmiths in house and if they can’t fix it by replacing a CNC made part, they don’t have anyone qualified to figure out what’s wrong.

  • Hickok45, MrGunsNGear, IV8888 and I think Tim at Military Arms Channel all have videos if you are interested in how accurate the gun shoots

    • It seemed accurate enough to me, but I didn’t have any targets to show our readers. Thanks for the suggestions, rumblestrip.

  • ks

    I own one….I like it alot. Two things I noticed, the mag rattles when not fully loaded and the trigger hurts my fingertip because of ridges in the edge of the trigger. May need to take some sandpaper to the edge…

    Maybe a cheap mod would be a single stack mag and corresponding grip which would be considerably thinner. (don’t believe that would cost much at all?)

    oh yeah…no light rail under the frame

    • Vhyrus

      I used my pocketknife to chamfer the edges of the trigger. It feels fine now. I paid $250 out the door for mine. It’s a piece of crap but that’s exactly why I like it. It’s reliable enough for daily carry and I won’t give a crap if it gets lost, stolen, scuffed, or confiscated.

  • Nimrod

    So how many guns now are based on the original Kel-Tec P11 design besides the SCCY (originally called SKYY)? Besides Kel Tec’s own P32, PF9 and P3AT, there is the Ruger LCP & LC9, the Taurus P111, the Diamondback and probably a couple more. The good thing is these pistols are relatively easy to make and usually pretty reliable which is why everybody is making them. The bad thing is that the long double action trigger on most of them makes shooting them burdensome. The newer single action trigger versions will make these obsolete.

  • patrickiv

    “…having a proper grip meant having the wings being completely covered by my hand, digging into the skin.” This is exactly the point that I brought up in the last SCCY review. It’s a deal-breaker.

    • Fortunately, the CPX-2 variant does not come with those “wings”.

      • patrickiv

        I’d like to try one of those. For the price, the trigger is more than adequate. I also like their business model, where they only make that one gun.

  • Nathan Means

    Gonna pick one up after tax season I think. Thanks for the write up. As a side note if your sccy gets taken for a self defense police investigation they will send you a pistol to use until yours is returned (and in todays world that means its a replacement since you probably will not get yours back)

  • Sulaco

    Looks an AWFUL lot like the old KelTec P11 to include the trigger function that got the exact same critic when it was out. Still not a bad gun for a one gun person willing to get used to it.

  • ghost

    I fully appreciate having choices, this just would not be one of them.

  • Tierlieb

    “However, the reset of the trigger only occurs at the very end of the trigger’s return; […] if the user of this handgun had not practiced with the trigger, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine them desperately short stroking the trigger and getting nothing out of the handgun.”

    This is an interesting thing to say from a teaching perspective. Why? Using the trigger reset technique is something that became popular with the advent of Glocks, which have one of the most obvious resets (remember the recent video by Kyle Lamb comparing Glock and M&P?).

    And even today, some high level schools still teach a full reset (or “trigger slap”) as being the more precise (that’s debatable) and more generally applicable way of trigger manipulation.

    Short-stroking a DA trigger is actually quite a new symptom, I would say. Ironically, I picked up shooting Glocks because “if you can shoot a Glock well, you can shoot anything”. When I bought my first Kahr MK9 (which has a long reset) I found out how wrong I was because the trigger reset of the Glock is somewhat unique. To be fair, Glock-like guns seem to make up half of all handguns, so it is not that big of a problem.

  • OldNorthState

    No offense to the author, but your observations regarding the trigger pull and reset indeed indicate that you simply “don’t get it”, and as you acknowledged, you aren’t a handgun guy. The long reset/smooth and heavy trigger pull basically duplicates, by design, that of many DA revolvers, for safety’s sake. This is one of the more safely carried pistols with one in the chamber, because it does NOT have a hairy SA target-style trigger. I do agree with your non-recommendation of the CPX-1 version that you review here, because of the hassles of the safety lever. And it is not the most popular version. The no-safety CPX-2 rules the day, with that long DA revolver-like trigger and the usual strict “finger off the trigger until ready to fire” discipline rewarding the SCCY owner with a really serious “up close and personal” self defense weapon of good quality. I own multiple “higher end” handguns, and find myself carrying the CPX-2 as often, if not more so, than any other piece I own. It’s an inexpensively priced – but not cheaply made – good handling, decent looking pistol… and with eleven rounds on board, it’s about as good as any out there, and better than many all ’round, for its intended use: CQ defensive social work.